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Tallinn Town Hall Square

Location: N59° 26` 13.9", E24° 44` 43.0"

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Tallinn Town Hall Square is the centre of Old Town. It is a gobbled square surrounded by medieval buildings. All old streets start from here. In the 10th -11th century the settlement of craftsmen and merchants started to expand near Toompea stronghold. The crowded market place was the heart of every town. This square has been the market place until 1896. It got its present name in 1923.

The square has had different purposes: it was a site of medieval executions as well as a place of merry celebrations. There stood a pillory. People can still see an iron collar a the wall of Town Hall, but a successful trade centre had more reasons to celebrate: bridal processions crossed the square, noble quests were worthily welcomed, carnivals and festivals were held, a Christmas tree was decorated. Celebrating Christmas at the square is a very old tradition. It is known that the first Christmas tree was put up here in 1441 by Tallinn's Brotherhood of the Blackheads who were not married merchants and shipowners. It is believed to be the first city Christmas tree in Europe. The Blackheads were welcomed with wine and aldermen lit the wax candles on the tree. People traditionally celebrated the event by dancing and playing around the tree, after what it was lit on fire. Nowadays, the mayor lights the first candle celebrating the 1st Advent, announces the Christmas peace and Christmas market is opened at the square.

In summer it is filled with outdoor cafes, plays host to the Old Town Days and other medieval festivals, is a venue of open air concerts and fairs. Blacksmiths show their skills, buskers play in the streets of Old Town. In addition to that, the square is a place where the leaders of other countries and our Olympic winners are welcomed. After winning a gold medal in Beijing, 2008, Gerd Kanter our discus thrower was carried on people's shoulders and given a wreath made of oak leaves. People also meet New Year at the square.

The most important building at the square is a Town Hall. It has been there since 1404. The City Counsellors worked there until 1970. It is the oldest town hall in the whole of the Baltic region and Scandinavia. Now there is a museum and a concert hall. At the top of the town hall there is a vane called Old Toomas- a man figure with big moustache wearing a suit of armour, a hat and a sword. It is a symbol of Tallinn which has guarded the town and showed the direction of the wind for 500 years.